Snow Ride

Nowadays, I don’t bike as much in the winter as I used to (opting instead for hiking/treadmill) but I still try to get out a couple of times per week. However, the snow we’ve gotten recently has further reduced my riding. Last Wednesday, I commuted to work on my old Specialized Rockhopper. I had not ridden this bike in almost a year, but I did get it tuned up at the shop recently. The morning temperature was in the teens, and the afternoon temperature was in the 20s. I rode with studded front and back tires for the first time in at least two years. It brought me back to my early bike commuting heyday, when I was obsessed with riding year-round in every imaginable weather condition.

Today, I took a mid-morning mountain bike ride. It was my first time (that I can recall) riding in the snow. It was a little too cold at dawn, so I waited until 10:00, when it was a little warmer, but still well below freezing. With a thaw on the way (it’s 37 as I write this) and sloppy, rainy weather coming later in the week, it’s looking like the window for snow rides isn’t going to last beyond tomorrow morning. Today, the trails were great, with most of them having been nicely “groomed” by earlier riders. Other than a few icy sections (mostly in sunny areas), the trails were in great shape, and fun to ride. I learned that snow riding (even on groomed trails) requires more physical effort, and different skills, than “regular” riding. I rode my hard-tail bike, which has new tires, and they gave me pretty good traction. I found that it was rather easy to overshoot turns and end up in the deeper snow on the edges of the trails, which generally causes the bike to lose traction. I was able to recover from this a few times, and others, I had to put my foot down and scoot the bike back onto the trail. I felt kind of like a beginning rider again. I suspect that if I lived in a snowier area, I’d get pretty good at this, but I don’t see it happening in Maryland. I only rode 7.5 miles, but it took me 90 minutes. I’m really glad I got out, as rain kept me off the mountain bike for most of December and early January, and it looks like the rain will be coming back later this week. I’m not sure when I’ll get another opportunity to ride in the snow, but I had fun today.